As Royals fans we know Dayton Moore doesn't like to wait for the stove to percolate. That's the legend, anyway. And with Buster Olney getting the inside scoop that the Royals will be active listeners on Billy Butler, it's possible we could see something happen quickly. For it to be a true October Surprise, he'd have to act today. I suppose that's possible. Although even though the Butler rumors have started to float, I'm thinking it will be a few weeks before we see any movement.
Since the Legend of Moore says he pulls the trigger within moments of the final out of the World Series, I thought we should jump in the time machine and look at his track record the from last several years when it comes to his first move of the winter. What follows is a list of Moore's first significant deal and the dates on which those moves were made.
For a comprehensive look at Moore's moves as Royals GM, be sure to check out the Dayton Moore Transaction History.
The Royals traded Ambiorix Burgos to the New York Mets in exchange for Brian Bannister.
A Winter Meeting deal. One day later, the Royals signed Gil Meche and selected Joakim Soria in the Rule 5 draft.
The Royals sign Yosuhiko Yabuta to a two-year, $6 million deal.
An international signing! An international bust! It was exciting at the time, though.
The Royals traded Leo Nunez to the Florida Marlins in exchange for Mike Jacobs.
The deal that started the "Moore doesn't wait around" drumbeat.
Moore was looking for power on the corners. Sure, Jacobs had clubbed 32 homers in the just completed season, but had the Royals GM looked beyond the counting stats he would have seen someone with a .299 OBP and a 102 wRC+. He was arbitration eligible and signed a $3.25 million contract. Even at the time, this move felt like the sort of deal where you close your eyes real tight and hope Jacobs can repeat the previous year. Even though there is zero evidence he could. A year later, Jacobs was non-tendered.
The Royals traded Mark Teahen to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Josh Fields and Chris Getz.
Teahen could never recapture the magical months of his 2006 campaign. Although Getz is oft-maligned, this was a fairly savvy deal by Moore. Teahen was entering his final year of club control and Fields and Getz each had around just a single year of service time to their credit. Getz wasn't any kind of offensive player, but he was a guy. A body that could play second base. Fields had power potential and it felt like a change of scenery would help as he never could find his footing in Chicago.
The Royals sign Jeff Francoeur to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
Moore waited until the Winter Meetings to make his first move in this off season, grabbing Francoeur off the scrap heap. This signing was preordained and roundly ripped at the time, but Francoeur provided plenty of positive value for what the Royals paid. The following day the Royals grabbed Melky Cabrera, effectively securing two-thirds of their quality outfield for the 2011 season for less than $4 million total.
Sure, this deal eventually led to the ill-advised extension, but if we drop this in a vacuum and look at it just for the one year of the initial contract, while this deal was universally panned, this was a great signing. Other teams were in on Francoeur at the time. Moore wasn't going to be outbid. It didn't block a player, the money wasn't huge and the Royals needed an outfielder. Low risk.
The Royals sign Bruce Chen to a two-year, $9 million contract.
Basically, a deal to re-sign Chen as he had become a free agent a few weeks earlier. This was a reach where the signing for a pitcher of Chen's caliber was early and for a year too much. We'll never know, but had the Royals waited maybe they could have got the left-hander back for half the terms of the contract. It would have been worth the gamble.
The Royals send Brandon Sisk to the Angels in exchange for Ervin Santana.
Rather than wait for the market to even start, Moore jumped out of the gate and decided that $12 million for one year of Santana was worth having. Turns out he was correct. A great move by Moore.
Overall, a mixed bag. A few classic Moore overplays (but any list of his deals will have a few of those) and some deals that felt suspect at the time but turned out good. In two of those winters, Moore made an October trade. And in another, he was in action in the first week of November. In two other years, he waited until the end of November. Finally, twice he waited until the Winter Meetings.